Friday, May 14, 2010

More attractive than a Hooded Warbler?

Photographer Murray Head's Squirrel Tale

The Ramble was alive with many attractions last Tuesday

But one I found to be particularly special

I have researched the subject of the squirrel's tail.

... to find:

The scientific name of the squirrel is "sciurus" from the ancient Greek "skiourous"... skia (shadow) and oura (tail).Therefore the squirrel quite literally can sit in the shadow of hisown tail--quite useful on a hot sunny day as a parasol and in the
rain or snow as an umbrella.

With a quick wrap, a squirrel's tail can also serve as a blanket. It can even be a rudder when in the water and a cushion whenthere is an occasional fall.

A squirrel's acrobatic balance owes a lot to skillful tail maneuvers.It serves to maintain balance when they run across the branchesof a tree. A flick of the tail can represent anything from asquirrel-to-squirrel communication, to distracting a predator.

There are genetic variations, including individuals with blacktails and black colored squirrels with white tails,(Kaibabs).

Does someone want to explain this fellow?

Photographed in The Ramble on 5/11/10

Three photos by Murray Head

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Indigo Bunting in Tuliptree

Cape May Warbler in Tulip Tree

Two photos by BARRIE RAIK
taken on May 11, 2010 during Steve Quinn's Tuesday morning AMNH walk

One of the last stops on Steve Quinn's bird walk yesterday morning was a Tulip Tree not far from the Balancing Boulder and the path to The Point. The tree was hopping with songbirds, including a Blackburnian Warbler almost at the tree's crown [as usual]

The photos above were taken by photographer and physician Barrie Raik, one of the long-time members of Quinn's Tuesday walk. She sent the photos along today as a memento of that glorious day and that amazing tree.

About the Tuliptree:

In just about my favorite tree guide of all, Edward Barnard's New York City Trees: a field guide for the Metropolitan area [Columbia U. Press], the author writes:

The tallest hardwood tree in North America, the tuliptree is the monarch of the magnolia family. Also known as the tulip poplar, the tuliptree can attain a height of over 150 feet with an absolutely straight trunk 8 to 10 feet in diameter and totally clear of branches for 80 or 100 feet...The pioneers used it to make dugout canoes and log cabins.

PS. In Barrie's first photo you can see the tulip-shaped blossoms for which the tree is named.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday's birds and Tuesday's report

Blue-winged Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Baltimore Oriole

4 photos by DAVID SPEISER -- 5/10/10

Tom Fiore reports on some of today's [Tuesday's] birds:

Hi Marie,

Since I understand so many birders got to see it, you may have had word (or saw for yourself) the male Blue Grosbeak that was first noted by a long-time birder Steve Chang, around the "oven" (which I still like to call by it's older birder's nickname, "Willow Rock" - and there are still willows there) in the Ramble this Tuesday morning.

Later in the day, I was walking the bridle path around the reservoir and heard a certain song that got me to investigate and was able to track the song to a rather shy Mourning Warbler, staying low in shrubs near the bridle path and singing only very intermittently at that late morning hour.

At the reservoir itself, a number of swallows and swifts persisted even though numbers seemed a bit lower than they'd been. A couple of Cliff Swallows, uncommonly seen in Central, were among the more regular Barn, Northern Rough-winged, and a few Tree Swallows as well as numerous Chimney Swifts. Today I was unable to find the Bank Swallows that were also present on Monday in these feeding flocks over the reservoir. This reservoir swallow-gathering seems to be an annual mid-spring phenomenon which is most apparent when winds are from a northerly or easterly direction for more than a short time. Once winds abate or the direction changes to one conducive to migrating north the numbers diminish, unless the feeding there is especially good. It's a little dizzying to try and observe but with practice one can spot a variety of swallows, when present.

Overall, the park is again showcasing the migration (particularly songbirds) quite well as it usually does by the middle part of May. With foliage so full already many birds are able to stay hidden but sharp-eyed birders are doing well finding a lot of them, too. It will be active for at least another two weeks, after which the park will take on the quieter aspect in the bird's world, with much nesting activity.

Enjoy this while it lasts,

PS from Marie: It was truly an incredible day today. On Steve Quinn's walk under the aegis of the American Museum of Natural History we saw and heard warblers galore, including : Yellow, Wilson's, Parula, Black-throated Blue, Canada, Yellow-rumped, Cape May, Magnolia, Nashville, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Black & White, Blackburnian, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat , Redstart among them! Then there were vireos, orioles, tanagers, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak-- all singing. We didn't see Tom's Mourning Warbler or any of the elusive skulkers. And we missed the Blue Grosbeak by about 30 minutes. [Quinn's walk ends at 9 a.m.] But it was one of the best days the group has had this [and perhaps any] year. And the morning began with an unusual sparrow right near our meeting place at the Naturalists Gate: a Lincoln's Sparrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Central Park Common Moorhen

Less Moorhen

More Moorhen

Photos and captions by MURRAY HEAD

The back story:

From ebirdsnyc

5/7/10, Friday
Pat Pollolck

Common Moorhen - Anne Shanahan asked parks people re Common Moorhen; it was found on Broadway, carried to park and parks dept put it in the Lake because it couldn't fly. Anne also called Vivian Sokol re rehabilitating the bird.

Murray Head
Photographed 5/8/10

Sunday, May 09, 2010

BIG DAY yesterday: the Kentucky and 22 other warbler species

Kentucky Warbler near The Loch --- May 8, 2010
Photo by Barrie Raik

Tom Fiore sends in a report:

Hi Marie,

On Saturday, May 8th, Tom Perlman found a Kentucky Warbler along the Loch towards the end near the base of the Wildflower Meadow, the bird actually mostly on the north side and right by the flowing water. At least 8 birders got to see it fairly well, and Barrie Raik has some photos. The warbler was not singing, and unfortunately did not oblige for those who came a bit later in the afternoon seeking the skulking- hopping warbler. It was actually the second one reported from the park; an earlier one in the Tanner's Spring area was seen by perhaps just 2 observers.

In addition to the Kentucky at least 22 additional species of warblers were found by many observers throughout the park in the north end & in the Ramble area. Many of the birds seen may have been newly arrived migrants. There was a noticeable increase in various flycatchers, including Olive-sided (in the north end) and many other species of migrants. Perhaps the NW winds Saturday & Sunday will keep some of the newly-arrived birds here in Central Park for a bit longer.